The Story Behind the Sign

Building Community Through Placemaking

Local beloved institution and community gathering space, Rice Public Library officially unveiled our wayfinding signage last week and we are thrilled to see such an overwhelmingly positive response from both the stakeholders and our community at large. Given the response, we wanted to take an opportunity to explain how the signs came about—and the inspiration behind the design. 

During the construction of the exciting library expansion in 2021, Principal Elisa Winter Holben walked by the site every day on the way to the WINTER HOLBEN studio and became inspired with an idea for a sculptural sign at the new main entrance that would celebrate this important and emerging community space. She proceeded to approach the Town Manager, Kendra Amaral with an offer to donate the design as a gift to the town she has called home for over 20 years. 

The objective of the design was to celebrate the evolving mission of the library: literacy, learning, creativity, and community through a playful series of sculptural books and letters. Additionally, the design ties into the architecture through the use of traditional materials like copper and aged patina finish copper against a contemporary form—paying tribute to the contrasting historic and contemporary structures that comprise the expanded library. Last but not least, industrial elements like exposed fasteners celebrate the working waterfront and shipyard that is also a core part of our community.

The excitement about the sculptural sign design from stakeholders and the building committee led to an additional project to design a comprehensive building wayfinding system including: an exterior message board, wayfinding at the various entrances, and an interior donor wall commemorating everyone who made the entire library renovation project happen. 

The enthusiasm of the stakeholders is best expressed by Library Director, Lee Perkins who commented: 

“A huge shout out to Kittery’s own Winter Holben Architecture & Design for their work designing Rice Public Library’s new signage. With these design elements peppered throughout the building and the grounds, we see the union of the old and the new, the familiar and the exciting!”

Finding ways to give back to our community is a key part of our mission here at WINTER HOLBEN. We believe that thoughtfully designed wayfinding adds a human scaled engagement that connects people to places, buildings and adds pride to the community at large. Collaborating with critical institutions like the library enables Kittery to progress as the vibrant village we all love and admire.

Learn more about our project.